Entrepreneurship is Lonely…But I Make it Worse

May 20, 2011 § 1 Comment

I had the below email exchange with my father last night:

Dad: You have done a fine job [with this blog]…The emotion that you showed in the first piece was outstanding and a side of you that I am not sure if I have ever seen before.

Steven: Thanks Dad.  Yes, I do believe there is a side of me that no one in my family really knows about.

Dad: So, why are you holding back?

Steven: I am not holding back at all. Just different context. You don’t see me at work. You don’t know how I handle business, because I never talk business in detail with the family.

Hmmm….stop for a minute Steven.  Think about what you just said.

One truism that all CEOs and Entrepreneurs know is that it is a lonely job.  While you are surrounded by employees, partners, investors, customers, etc. you really never have any one person who fully understands all of the businesses context who you can open up to.  I have been lucky enough to build an amazing support system, including some unbelievable mentors.  I talk to them all of the time about pieces.  I talk to my teammates about pieces.  I talk to my very supportive wife about pieces.  But I have never removed the feeling of loneliness in a business context.  I don’t really know why.  Maybe it is because decisions, and the results of the decisions rest squarely on the Founder’s shoulders.  That’s the best that I can explain it.  I am not sure if that entirely explains it though.  It is just a lonely job.  But I am starting to think that I make it worse than it has to be.

What’s weird is that I do not feel lonely at all in my personal life.  I am much more open.  My wife is my true partner and knows everything.  We have this open dialogue where I can share everything with her.  I also have a very close relationship with my family and several close friends.  In my personal life, I am very open.  But I have this dichotomy in my mind between professional (where I feel lonely) and personal (where I am a very open person).  I compartmentalize.  I don’t know why.

For some reason, when it comes to my professional life, I don’t open up to my family.  This fact doesn’t make sense because these are the people on this planet who care about me the most.  It’s not intentional.  I just usually shut down once I get home.  Part of it is probably my body/mind needing some down time.  When you are a leader of an organization, you always have to be “on.”  But when I am home, in front of my family, I can relax.  It is actually a compliment to them, although, I am not sure they see it that way, which I can understand.  I can understand why my dad feels there is a side of me he doesn’t know.  Because I don’t expose it to him.  Maybe this concept that “entrepreneurship is lonely” is a self-fulfilling prophesy.  Maybe I just figured a mechanism I can use to open up more…this blog.  I didn’t anticipate that benefit when I started this blog, but let’s go with it.  If nothing else, it is a start.

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§ One Response to Entrepreneurship is Lonely…But I Make it Worse

  • ann wenger says:

    Steve it is only natural you what to leave your work at work. This is hard to do when you are the founder. I think you are being hard on yourself when you say you do not share your business day with your family. I have seen you share with your wife and with us. Some things about the day are just mumdane and somethings are just so fustrating you do not what or need to takk about them again. They most important parts of your business day you do share. You are correct that it is lonely at the top, so when you feel alone just call home and get a kiss and hug on the phone from your wonderful wife and the most precious little boy

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